Along with providing advocacy for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, The Friendship Center is committed to preventing these crimes as part of our mission by educating youth in our community about healthy relationships.
One way we do this is by regularly spending time in high school classrooms throughout the tri-county area to talk with students about what makes a relationship healthy, the forms of relationship abuse they might experience, bystander intervention, and consent. Our goal is to give young people the tools and information they need to thrive in their own relationships, but also to help friends and loved ones who may experience dating violence, sexual violence, or stalking.
In 2023, we connected with 739 students in our service area. That number reflects our work with high schoolers as well as a significant amount of time spent on the campus of Carroll College with different classes, student-athletes, campus clubs, and student leaders like resident advisors and peer ministers.
Our 2023 visits to area high schools brought us to Helena High School, Capital High School, Jefferson High School, and—for the first time this year—Helena’s Project for Alternative Learning (currently offered to 10th-12th grade students in the Helena Public Schools system). Along with return trips to these schools in 2024, we hope to bring this important education about healthy relationships to Whitehall Middle and High Schools, Broadwater High School, East Helena Schools, and Lincoln Schools.
As we continue to present basic information in high school classrooms, we also hope to expand our work with student-athletes using the Coaching Boys Into Men and Athletes As Leaders curricula that we’ve successfully used with college athletes at Carroll.
We also hope to build relationships with educators in local middle schools in 2024 to make sure we’re empowering young folks to recognize abuse and learn about healthy dynamics as they're forming friendships and possibly new dating relationships. One program developed for this age group that we’re hoping to eventually implement in our service region is Power Up, Speak Out!
Developed and launched in 2012 by one of our peer agencies serving Carbon and Stillwater counties, Power Up, Speak Out! is a five-lesson, evidence-based toolkit geared toward ending the cycle of violence before it starts. It has been implemented across Montana and neighboring states with great success and would be a wonderful addition to middle school classrooms in our community.
We’re also looking forward to being part of a collaboration this year focused on the health and wellbeing of local youth. Recently, The Friendship Center has been invited to participate on a community board for Communities That Care, a national framework focused on addressing youth risk behaviors and protective factors that’s being organized here in Helena by Youth Connections. As part of the community board, we’ll be working with a team of multi-disciplinary professionals to identify the challenges facing our local youth that may lead to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; school delinquency; relationship violence; and teen pregnancy. Once identified, we’ll work together with youth to address these challenges.
The Friendship Center is excited to be part of this grassroots effort to improve outcomes for kids in our area, and we delight in working with local schools, organizations across the state, and partners like Youth Connections who share our passion for investing in youth. Empowering the next generation with resources, knowledge, and support is one of the best ways to help our community thrive in healthy relationships, and we’re thrilled to continue our work with and for young people in the year ahead.
Resources to Support Young People
Check out the following resources to learn more about how you can help young people navigating relationships:
If you want more information about our education services, visit our community education page to learn more about our resources for all ages and audiences.